Military Factory logo

Fairey Albacore

United Kingdom (1940)
Picture of Fairey Albacore Naval Torpedo Bomber Biplane Aircraft

Intended to succeed the famous Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bomber, the Fairey Albacore failed in this respect but managed a fairly useful service life during World War 2 nonetheless.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Fairey Albacore Naval Torpedo Bomber Biplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

As effective and well-liked as the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber was for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA), its origins lay in 1930s thinking for the design retained a biplane wing arrangement, open-air cockpits for its three crew, and a fixed wheeled undercarriage. Its prototype first flew in 1934 and service introduction was in 1936 after which followed a healthy production run of 2,391 aircraft. To satisfy Air Ministry Specification S.41/36, Fairey Aviation moved on offering the FAA a more modern form of the Swordfish which became the Fairey "Albacore". It was a sound enough aircraft but never managed the popularity or production levels of the Swordfish as only 800 (798) were built before the line was retired - ahead of the Swordfish no less.

The Albacore was affectionately known as the "Applecore" by her crews.

A Bristol Taurus engine was selected to offer more power than the Bristol Pegasus featured in the Swordfish. One of the key physical changes to the design was a wholly-enclosed cockpit for the crew which benefited the design on two fronts - aerodynamic efficiency and crew operating conditions. A biplane wing arrangement was retained as was a fixed wheeled undercarriage, though the main legs were faired over rather nicely for additional aerodynamic gains. The aircraft would operate through a crew of three as standard and carry up to 2,000 pounds of ordnance in the way of conventional drop bombs or - more importantly - a single torpedo weighing 1,670 pounds.

The Bristol Taurus II model was a 14-cylinder radial piston engine outputting at 1,065 horsepower. Coupled with the revised airframe, maximum speed was 160 miles per hour with a cruising speed near 140 miles per hour. Range was out to 930 miles and service ceiling reached 20,700 feet. The aircraft could reach 6,000 feet in about eight minutes. Comparatively, the Swordfish managed a speed up to 143 miles per hour with a torpedo load and ranged out to 522 miles. Service ceiling was 16,500 feet and rate-of-climb 870 feet per minute.

Standard armament on the Albacore was 1 x 7.7mm machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing mounting in the starboard wing element. 1 or 2 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine guns could be set in the rear cockpit to protect the aircraft's more vulnerable rear quarters from intercepting enemy fighters. The rear armament was optional and not featured in some active Albacores.

First flight for an Albacore prototype came on December 12th, 1938 - less than a year from the British declaration of war on Germany (this still to come in September of 1939). A second prototype followed but this had its wheeled undercarriage replaced with floats for the floatplane torpedo bomber role. In the end, the wheeled version won out and the design formally entered service with the FAA during 1940.

The Albacore's baptism of fire came on a sortie against Boulogne in September of 1940. In March of 1941, Albacores were used effectively in heavily damaging the Italian warship Vittorio Veneto and were later pressed into service over-land as light bombers against Axis targets in North Africa. Its performance limited these particular endeavors to night actions to help lessen the risk of interception by enemy fighters. Beyond involvement in setting the stage for the 2nd Battle of Alamein (October-November 1942), the Albacore was featured from British carrier decks throughout the Mediterranean (including the Sicily/Italian landings), in the Arctic, over Atlantic waters, and off the Indian coast - essentially wherever British carriers were needed the Albacore was fielded in force. During the June 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy along the French northern coast, Albacores played a supporting role under the flag of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). In fact, final actions involving Albacores were by the Canadians as the British retired their stock during 1944.

In the end, the Albacore made up the primary aircraft of no fewer than forty-five FAA squadrons. The Royal Air Force (RAF) also featured it in two of its own squadrons (Nos. 36 and 119) and the Canadians managed the Albacore through just one squadron during the war, this being No. 415.

Any available statistics for the Fairey Albacore Naval Torpedo Bomber Biplane Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (162mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Fairey Albacore Mk.I's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
798
798


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1940
Type: Naval Torpedo Bomber Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Fairey Aviation Company - UK
Production: 798
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Canada; United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Fairey Albacore Mk.I model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
39.83 ft


Meters
12.14 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
50.03 ft


Meters
15.25 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
15.16 ft


Meters
4.62 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
7,275 lb


Kilograms
3,300 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
12,632 lb


Kilograms
5,730 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Bristol Taurus II 14-cylinder radial piston engine developing 1,065 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
162 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
260 kph


Knots
140 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
932 mi


Kilometers
1,500 km


Nautical Miles
810 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
20,702 ft


Meters
6,310 m


Miles
3.92 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
750 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
229 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm machine gun in starboard wing (fixed, forward-firing).
1 OR 2 x 7.7mm Vickers K heavy machine in trainable mounting at rear cockpit.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 2,000lb of conventional drop stores OR 1 x 1,670lb torpedo.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Albacore - Base Series Name
• Albacore Mk.I - Primary production model; 798 examples completed.